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0113 New Year's Party

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 113: A New Year’s Party.

Hello and welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast episode 113. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Today’s podcast is going to be, appropriately enough, about New Year’s. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

I walked into the office and saw Rob with his head down on his desk. I tapped him on the shoulder.

Christy: You look like you had a good New Year's.

Rob: Yeah, too good. I'm trying to catch up on sleep.

Christy: Oh yeah? What did you do?

Rob: I went to a New Year's party at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip with a few buddies of mine. The fireworks at midnight were great. I met this great girl there, too. Champagne was flowing everywhere and I had a great time.

Christy: Sounds like fun. What was the girl's name?

Rob: Uh, it was Rosa or Rebecca, or something.

Christy: I see you really got to know her well. But, I thought you and Vince were going to the Rose Bowl Parade.

Rob: Yeah, we did. After we left the Key Club, we changed and took our stuff down to the parade route. We managed to find a place to camp out. There were tons of people there already. We ended up striking up conversations with some out-of-towners from Cleveland, and a couple who knew the grand marshal for this year's parade.

Christy: How was the parade itself?

Rob: It was great, I think. I fell asleep half way through it, but the floats I saw were pretty amazing.

Christy: It sounds like you need a few days to recover.

Rob: Yeah, definitely. Wake me up when the boss comes in, will you?

Christy: Yeah, right. Hey, heads up. Here she comes.

[end of dialogue]

Today we are talking about the tradition of the New Year’s Eve party on December 31st – if you celebrated that. I used to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but as I get older, I don’t – I’m not as interested in going out to a bar or restaurant with friends. Mainly because there are a lot of not very intelligent people who drink too much and it’s not that safe anymore on the roads – at least that’s my opinion. So, I usually stay at home. I don’t go out. I don’t go to a restaurant or a bar. I just stay at home. But the person in our story here, Rob, did go out and celebrate.

Our story begins with Christy, the woman, saying that she walked into the office and saw Rob with his “head down” on his desk. To have your “head down on the desk” means, of course, that you are sleeping or resting with your head sitting on top of your desk. So, Christy tapped him on the shoulder. “To tap” (tap) means to touch lightly. Usually, it’s just a small touch that’s quick on the arm or the shoulder and it’s to get someone’s attention. You don’t punch them. You don’t hit them hard. You just take your fingers and you touch them to their shoulder, usually once or twice, to get their attention.

Well, she tapped him on the shoulder and she said, “It looks like you had a good new year’s,” meaning a good New Year’s Eve celebration. Rob says, “Yeah, too good.” When we say – someone asks us a question and they say, “Was it good?” “Yeah, too good,” meaning it was – I did too much. I celebrated too much, in this case. He says he’s trying to “catch up on sleep.” “To catch up on sleep” means that you didn’t get enough sleep and now you’re trying to make up or catch up – you’re trying to get that sleep back, if you will. “To catch up to someone” or “to catch up on something” means that you are behind where you should be and you are trying to get further along to a certain place – here means, just to get more sleep.

Christy asks Rob what he did for New Year’s Eve, and Rob says he went to the “Key Club on Sunset Strip.” “The Key” (key) – like the key to your car – “The Key Club” is a famous nightclub, a place where you can dance and drink and celebrate. It’s a very exclusive club – very difficult to get in to the Key Club. It’s located in an area of Los Angeles that’s fairly famous in the United States called the “Sunset Strip.” “Sunset” (sunset) is the name of the street or the avenue and “The Strip” (strip) just means – when we talk about a strip on a street we mean a part of the street usually where there are lots of businesses, restaurants, entertainment, bars, that sort of thing. So, any street can have a strip. But the “Sunset Strip” is very famous. It’s in Hollywood. It’s actually in the neighborhood of Hollywood in California. Some people don’t know that Hollywood is not a separate city. Hollywood is just the name of one region or one part of the city of Los Angeles. So, Sunset Strip is in the neighborhood of Hollywood. It’s also part of another city called “West Hollywood.” And this is where all of the celebrities and stars, ESL Podcast hosts – all of us go up there to mix and talk to the rich and famous, right? And so, Sunset Strip is a place where there are a lot of famous restaurants and night clubs and so forth and one of them is “The Key Club.” And it’s always very crowded. The street is always very crowded on Sunset Strip. It’s as famous – well, not almost quite as famous but it’s sort of like Times Square in New York City where they have the big New Year celebration every year. Sunset Strip is sort of like that for Los Angeles, except it’s mostly cars, not people like you find in New York.

Rob says that he watched the “fireworks.” The “fireworks” – all one word – (fireworks) is what we sometimes call “Pyrotechnics.” They are colorful lights and you shoot them up into the air. They’re actually – go up in the air and they explode and you have fireworks for any big celebration in the United States, like the 4th of July, and in this case, for New Year’s Eve. At least in big cities, they often have fireworks. And they’re very beautiful to watch.

Rob says that the “champagne was flowing everywhere.” “Champagne,” of course, is originally - or the true champagne is from a region in France, but there are many different types of what people call “champagne.” Basically, it is a type of wine that has bubbles in it and it’s used for celebrations. And traditionally, on New Year’s Eve, you drink champagne to celebrate. “The champagne was flowing” (flowing) – “to flow” that is a word we use for a river – “a river flows” – means it goes forward. It moves forward and there’s a lot of water. So when we say, the champagne was “flowing” we mean there was a lot of champagne being served, being poured and being drunk by people.

Rob says he also met a girl at the party, but he doesn’t remember her name, which of course, is not a very gentleman thing to do. I would never do that, but then again, I am married. So, I don’t talk to other women. Well, I talk to other women, I just you know.

Christy says – asked what Rob did and said that she thought he and his friend Vince were going to the “Rose Bowl parade.” “The Rose Bowl parade” is an annual celebration on the 1st of January in the city of Pasadena, which is located right next to Los Angeles. It’s very famous in the United States, everyone has heard of the Rose Bowl parade. It takes place on New Year’s Day and it’s a parade to celebrate the New Year’s, but also it’s a parade that is connected to a football game – American football game – that is played in a stadium called “The Rose Bowl” – that’s where we get the Rose Bowl parade. The parade is sometimes called the “Tournament of Roses.” I’m not sure how it exactly started. It was probably a way for people in Southern California to celebrate. Now, it is nationally televised. So, anywhere in the United States, you can watch the Rose Bowl parade as well as the Rose Bowl game. And in American Football, the game is between two college teams and these are considered the two best teams. So, it’s sort of like – now, it is sort of like the national championship for American college football. This year, the University of Southern California (USC), which is where I went to school, is in the Rose Bowl – playing against I don’t remember – some other team, but it’s not important because the other team will lose.

Anyway, Rob says that after they left the Key Club on the Sunset Strip, he and his friend changed and took their stuff down to the parade route. When someone says, “I changed” they mean they changed their clothes, they took off their clothes and put on new clothes. “Stuff.” You probably know (stuff) is just a general word in English for things. So, they took off their stuff and went down to the parade route. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who watch the Rose Bowl parade on the street. So, if you want to get a good seat, you have to go the night before or no later than midnight and you have to camp – you have to sleep on the street – in order to get a good place to watch the parade the following day. It takes place the following morning.

Well, Vince and Rob decided to camp out. And to “camp out” – two words – means basically the same as to camp, to go somewhere outside and to sleep. He says there were “tons of people” there already. This is a very informal but common expression. When people mean a lot, or very many, they’ll often say, “There were tons” (tons) or “there was a ton” of people. Literally, a “ton” is a unit of measurement for weight. But here, it means a lot of people. So, when somebody says, “there was a ton of people,” they don’t mean that all the people together weighed a ton – that’s possible. But they mean a lot of people.

He says that – Rob says that he and Vince ended up striking up conversation with some “out-of-towners.” “To strike up a conversation” – the verb “to strike up” here means to begin, to start conversations. And it’s a verb that we use – “to strike up” – particularly for that idea of conversation, usually, with someone that you don’t know. So, I was standing on the bus, waiting for the bus and I struck up a conversation with the person standing next to me – starting a conversation with a stranger. In this case, the strangers were “out-of-towners.” And “out-of-towners” – that’s three words hyphenated – “out-of-towners” are people that live – that don’t live, rather – that do not live in your town, in your city, and are visiting from another city. So, someone from Texas, coming to watch the Rose Bowl would be an “out-of-towner.”

The out-of-towners they talked to were from Cleveland. “Cleveland” is a city in Ohio, which is in the eastern part of the United States. Rob says that a “couple” – they talked to a “couple” who knew the grand marshal of this year’s parade. A “couple” here means a – usually, a married couple or two people who are romantically involved – are a “couple.” The “grand marshal” in a parade – at least in the United States – there’s one person, usually a famous person, who is made the – sort of the president or the head of the parade. And the word we use for that is “grand” – two words – “grand” “marshal.” The “grand marshal” is sort of the honorary head or leader of the parade and he or she has their own – what we call a “float.” In a parade – the Rose Bowl parade – has lots of different “floats” (floats). A “float” is usually a big car or truck and it’s decorated. In the Rose Bowl, all of the floats are decorated with flowers. And that’s what you see going down the street, and sometimes, the float will have a big balloon on it or something very fancy.

Christy asked Rob how the parade was “itself,” meaning the actual parade. And he says that he “fell asleep halfway through it.” “So, he didn’t even make it to the end of the parade.” But the floats he saw were pretty amazing and, of course, we just explained what a float is. Christy says at the end of our dialogue, “It sounds like you need a few days to recover.” “To recover” (recover) means to get over a particularly difficult time. For example, if you are sick, we say, “I need time to recover.” I need time to rest, to go back to normal again. Rob says, yes he does and tells Christy to wake him up when the boss comes in. And Christy says, “Hey, heads up. Here she comes.” “Heads up” – two words – is an expression, an exclamation really, we use when we’re trying to warn someone. If somebody says, “Heads up!” they mean that there is something dangerous or something that they need to be aware of, they need to look around. At a baseball game, if somebody hits a ball and it’s going in to where the people are sitting, you may say, “Heads up!” meaning look out, you may get hit by a ball. You have to be watching. And that’s the use of the expression.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue this time at a native rate of speech.

[start of dialogue]

I walked into the office and saw Rob with his head down on his desk. I tapped him on the shoulder.

Christy: You look like you had a good New Year's.

Rob: Yeah, too good. I'm trying to catch up on sleep.

Christy: Oh yeah? What did you do?

Rob: I went to a New Year's party at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip with a few buddies of mine. The fireworks at midnight were great. I met this great girl there, too. Champagne was flowing everywhere and I had a great time.

Christy: Sounds like fun. What was the girl's name?

Rob: Uh it was Rosa or Rebecca, or something.

Christy: I see you really got to know her well. But, I thought you and Vince were going to the Rose Bowl Parade.

Rob: Yeah, we did. After we left the Key Club, we changed and took our stuff down to the parade route. We managed to find a place to camp out. There were tons of people there already. We ended up striking up conversations with some out-of-towners from Cleveland, and a couple who knew the grand marshal for this year's parade.

Christy: How was the parade itself?

Rob: It was great, I think. I fell asleep half way through it, but the floats I saw were pretty amazing.

Christy: It sounds like you need a few days to recover.

Rob: Yeah, definitely. Wake me up when the boss comes in, will you?

Christy: Yeah, right. Hey, heads up. Here she comes.

[end of dialogue]

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time on ESL Podcast.

ESL Podcast is a production of the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. This podcast is copyright 2005. No part of this podcast may be sold or redistributed without the expressed written permission of the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to have (one’s) head down – when one's head is pointing downward; when one's head rests flat on a surface with the face down

* Mariana was so tired that she had her head down on her desk and almost fell asleep in class.


to tap – to quickly touch someone with a finger or a hand to get that person’s attention or to get that person to look at one

* Omar’s friend was listening to music and did not hear Omar walk in, so Omar tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention.


to catch up on – to bring something to the state or condition it should be in

* Geraldine missed work on Thursday, so she had many tasks and assignments to catch up on when she came back on Friday.


Sunset Strip – a path or part of a street in Hollywood, California, with restaurants and entertainment businesses

* Ryan hoped to have fun and see some actors during his visit to the Sunset Strip.


fireworks – colorful explosions shot in the sky during a celebration or special event; bursts of loud noises and bright colors that are shown in the sky during a celebration or special event

* The fireworks display was very loud and colorful, but it was the perfect way to end the festive night.


champagne – an alcoholic drink with a light color and many bubbles (pockets of air inside of a liquid), usually drunken at parties

* Margaret and Jamal served their guests champagne to celebrate their marriage.


to flow – to pour without stopping; for a liquid to move in a stream or steady path

* The river flowed through the forest and into a lake.


Rose Bowl Parade – the Tournament of Roses Parade; a party that happens at the start of a new year in Southern California to celebrate the new year, which includes a walk with musicians, important people, and other organizations or groups of people down the center of a long road

* Patrick wanted to go to the Rose Bowl Parade to spend New Year’s Day.


to change – to remove clothing one is wearing and put on different clothing

* After work, Kyra changed into her exercise clothes to go running.


parade – an event where musicians, important people, and other organizations or groups of people walk down a long road to celebrate an event

* The town had a parade to celebrate Independence Day, and many people came to watch the bands march down the street.


to camp out – to sleep outside; to sleep or sit somewhere not usually meant for sleeping or sitting, for a long period of time

* The store was having a big sale, so Alva camped out in front of the doors until the store opened.


to strike up a conversation – to start talking with someone

* Shauna is a friendly person who likes talking to new people and strikes up conversations with people she meets on the bus.


out-of-towner – someone who does not live in the town or city that he or she is currently in; someone who is visiting a town or city from another town or city

* Rubin plans to guide through the city a few out-of-towners who are visiting New York from Chicago.


grand marshal – someone who is labeled as the most important guest at a parade; someone who is honored at a parade

* In 1966, the Rose Parade honored Walt Disney by making him the grand marshal of the parade.


float – a car or truck with fancy decorations or designs that drives in a parade; a car or other vehicle that represents an organization or group and is driven in a parade

* The department store had a colorful float in the parade to advertise the store.


to recover – to return or come back to a normal state or condition; to become better after being unwell

* Jean Marie was ill with the flu but she is recovering now.


heads up – a warning of something that will happen; a statement to let someone know that something will happen in the future

* When Melvin saw the teacher looking at his tired friend, he told his friend, “Heads up. I think the teacher is going to ask you a question.”

Culture Note
New Year Resolutions

When the new year arrives, it is quite common for Americans to make new year’s “resolutions,” promising themselves to do things differently in the new year and to improve their lives.

Each year, the “media” (outlets for news, such as newspapers) publish lists of the most popular American new year’s resolutions. These are “consistently” (always; commonly) on that list:

- lose weight

- pay of “debt” (money you owe to others)

- save money

- get a better job

- get fit (good physical shape)

- “eat right” (eat healthy foods)

- get a better education

- drink less alcohol

- quit smoking

- reduce “stress” (strong feelings of worry) overall

- reduce stress at work

- take a trip

- “volunteer to help others” (work to help others without getting paid)

While many people make new year resolutions, few people keep them. In one 2007 research study involving 3,000 people, nearly 90% of those who made a new year resolution “failed” (did not succeed). This is especially surprising because over 50% of the “participants” (people in the study) felt confident that would succeed when the study began.